At all costs, the Christian must convince the heathen and the atheist that God exists, in order to save his soul. At all costs, the atheist must convince the Christian that the belief in , doing enormous harm to the cause of true social progress 1)↓. And so they battle and storm and bang away at each other. Meanwhile, the Taoist Sage sits quietly by the stream, perhaps with a book of poems, a cup of wine, and some painting materials, enjoying the Tao to his hearts content, without ever worrying whether or not Tao exists. The Sage has no need to affirm the Tao; he is far too busy enjoying it!
1. CHINESE PHILOSOPHY IN A NUTSHELL
A mathematician friend of mine recently told me of a mathematician friend of his who everyday “takes a nap”. Now, I never take naps. But I often fall asleep while reading — which is very different from deliberately taking a nap! I am far more like my dogs Peekaboo, Peekatoo and Trixie than like my mathematician friend once removed. These dogs never take naps; they merely fall asleep. They fall asleep wherever and whenever they choose (which, incidentally is most of the time!). Thus these dogs are true Sages.
I think this is all that Chinese philosophy is really about; the rest is mere elaboration! If you can learn to fall asleep without taking a nap, then you too will become a Sage. But if you can’t, you will find it not as easy as you might think. It takes discipline! But discipline in the Eastern, not Western style. Eastern discipline enables you to fall asleep rather than take a nap; Western discipline has you do the reverse. Eastern discipline trains you to “allow yourself” to sleep when you are sleepy; Western discipline teaches you to force yourself to sleep whether you are sleepy or not. Had I been Laotse, I would have added the following maxim — which I think is the quintessence of Taoist philosophy:
The Sage falls asleep not because he ought to
Nor even because he wants to
But because he is sleepy.
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|1.||↑||Lawrence Krauss & Richard Dawkins|